Daughters of the Witching Hill
by Mary Sharratt
Discussion Questions:
1. Does the book's portrayal of magic and cunning folk in early modern Britain feel authentic to you? Did the book change any of your views on historical witchcraft?

2. Compare the Pendle Witch Trials to the more familiar Salem Witch Trials of 1692. What were the primary differences in the social forces driving the two witch hunts?

3. A cunning woman of longstanding repute, Bess Southerns earned her living by using her folk charms to heal humans and livestock. She practiced her craft for decades before anyone dared to interfere with her. Only at the age of eighty, near the end of her long and productive career, was she arrested on witchcraft charges. Why do you think this was?

4. Unlike many other accused witches, Bess freely admitted to being a cunning woman, and she even bragged to the magistrate about her familiar spirit, Tibb, who appeared to her in the guise of a beautiful young man. Why didn't Bess try to save herself by denying the accusations?

5. Who, or what, is Tibb, Bess's familiar spirit? Do you see him as good, evil, or neither? Does he ultimately benefit Bess or lead her into tragedy?

6. The cunning craft Bess practiced reveals a sincere faith in the power of Catholic prayers combined with folk beliefs in familiar spirits, sympathetic magic, and the fairy folk. Would you describe her worldview as ultimately Christian or pagan? How does Bess's spiritual vision differ from that of fellow accused witch Alice Nutter, a recusant Catholic, who concealed outlawed priests in her manor house?

7. Bess's family's charms were recorded in the trial documents and presented as evidence that her family practiced diabolical witchcraft. Yet these charms were Catholic prayers: one was a moving depiction of the Virgin Mary watching her son die on the cross. Why were the Protestant authorities so eager to conflate Catholicism and witchcraft?

8. Why do you think so many people in Lancashire, England, clung to the outlawed Catholic faith in the face of persecution and death?

9. Is Chattox justified in her actions to protect her daughter, Anne Redfearn, when she knows the authorities will do nothing to help her? What would you have done in Chattox's situation?

10. How does Jamie's affliction-as well as his community's ignorance and bigotry-shape his fate?

11. What do you think is the origin of the "green sickness" that kills Alizon's best friend, Nancy? How did people's view of illness in this period mirror their beliefs in witchcraft and the supernatural?

12. Why is magistrate Roger Nowell so obsessed with witch-hunting? After having known about Bess and her magical activities for several decades, why does he finally make his move in 1612?

13. Why is it so important for Roger Nowell to convince the authorities that a vast conspiracy of satanic witches is threatening to undermine the social order? After arresting so many of Bess's friends and relatives, why does Nowell spare Bess's son Kit and his family?

14. What do you think of nine-year-old Jennet Device and her betrayal of her family? What do you think happened to her after the trial?

15. What enduring message does the Pendle witch tragedy have for people of our time?

(Discussion Questions by Author )


Book Club Talking Points:
In addition to the fascinating topic of witch trials, this book explores the effects of fear and greed on relationships and society. It sheds light on the often thin line between religion and witchcraft and scrutinizes England's history during this era. It's historically rich and one that will haunt you.
More Reading Suggestions
Popular Books
If you have a passion for reading and, like most, have no time to find the right book, browse the most popular books trending right now. They are all page-turners, and they all let you escape from reality.

Popular Book-  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, THE SONG OF ACHILLES is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer's enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously...More


Popular Book-The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this entrancing novel "that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all" (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the...More


Popular The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman's act of violence against her husband-and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Alicia Berenson's life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter...More


Popular Book- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Circe
By Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child-not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for ...More


Popular Book- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren
AFor two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime-maybe even love-in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky ...More


Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
PBR book reviews and Reading guides for book clubs
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Pintrest Follow us on InstaGram
Visit out Etsy Shop
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending